Intel Acquires Telmap to Help Navigate a Crowded App Market

Intel provided a major update on its plans in the mobile space this week, including the announcement that it has acquired Telmap, an Israeli location-based services company.

In addition, at an event it hosted for mobile developers in Seattle, the chipmaker said it was no longer supporting MeeGo, a Linux-based operating system, and instead was now focusing on an operating system called Tizen in partnership with Samsung.

The new operating system, which is based on Linux, will focus on supporting HTML5 to better compete in the future against Android and Apple.

Telmap will become part of Intel’s consumer services division and support Intel AppUp, an app store aimed at consumers who are looking to download software for their mobile phones or other devices.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Telmap, which has 210 employees and says it is profitable, provides mapping, local business listings and other location-based services for applications. It primarily works with wireless operators in Europe, and powers such applications as Orange Maps and Vodafone’s Find and Go.

Roughly seven million subscribers use the company’s services worldwide.

Peter Biddle, the general manager of Intel AppUp, explained to me that they wouldn’t be so bold to say that they are trying to compete against the “galactically” big Google Maps or Bing Maps franchises.

But he does see some wiggle room when it comes to working with third-party developers.

He said many developers today rely on Google Maps to provide directions or more information within their applications, but then must agree to various business licenses, which could change down the road.

If developers use mapping and location services from Telmap instead, they will own that relationship with the consumer, rather than sending them to Google or Microsoft. He goes into more detail in a blog post.

“What happens if Bing’s or Google’s licenses change?” he said. “Developers can provide an in-app experience without someone getting in between them and their users. We are not trying to get in between.”

By providing mapping services, Biddle hopes to attract more developers to AppUp, which is obviously way behind Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market.

Tizen is expected to launch its first mobile and ultrabook devices in mid-2012, and Biddle is hoping to attract six million consumers to the AppUp platform by next year.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work